Safety is tried and tested.
Fifty percent of FMCSA and Coast Guard workers receive random drug tests every year. Millions of Department of Transportation employees receive drug tests for hiring and job promotions.
Drug tests ensure that employees are focused on their job. Drugs can affect judgment and compromise health.
It is not the end of your career if you fail a drug test. You can continue your job if you know the next steps. Here is a quick guide to DOT testing and what happens if you fail.
What Is a DOT Drug Test?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) tests many of its employees for drugs. In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act. The Act mandates drug testing for anyone who operates commercial vehicles.
Employees who must submit to tests include drivers, flight crews, and train workers. Emergency response workers working with hazardous materials and armed security must also submit. If you are an employee who could be asked to perform a sensitive job, you can receive a drug test.
Testing occurs before a person is hired and after an accident. It can also occur if a supervisor suspects their employee is high on drugs while working. Random tests can occur at any time.
The DOT has an internal office that monitors its drug testing. A DOT employee may conduct the test, but outside organizations process most DOT testing.
DOT drug tests are urine-based. DOT does run alcohol tests, in which they use breath and saliva. Alcohol tests are separate from drug tests.
DOT tests for marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines. They also test for opiates and PCP.
The DOT permits prescription and over-the-counter drugs, provided the employee has a formal prescription. Though medical marijuana is legal, the DOT does not permit employees to use it before or during work. Your employer can discipline you if medical marijuana is found in your system.
How to Take a DOT Drug Test
A test begins when you are notified to submit to one. You may or may not receive a reason for the test. You must report to the collection site immediately.
You must hand over a valid ID and empty your pockets. You will then receive a sealed kit. You provide at least 45 milliliters of urine, which a supervisor pours into two bottles.
They will check the temperature and color of the urine there. You must sign on the seals on the bottles. You will also sign additional forms with your contact information.
If you cannot provide 45 milliliters of urine, you will remain in the testing area until you can. You will receive privacy while you pee. You may be supervised only if a urine sample shows signs of tampering.
An independent lab will then conduct tests on one sample. If they find flaws in the test-taking process, they will reject the sample.
After the lab conducts its test, it will send its results to a Medical Review Officer. The Officer will review the lab’s paperwork for its accuracy.
If the test results are negative, the Officer will report them to a representative of your employer. They will then notify you.
If the results are positive, the Officer will conduct an interview with you. The process extends from there.
Your results are confidential, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. You must provide written consent for your employer to disclose your results. But your information can be released without your consent for legal proceedings.
What Happens if You Have a False Positive?
You can provide evidence during your interview with the Medical Review Officer. They will ask if you have any medical conditions that could trigger a positive.
Antidepressants and antibiotics can trigger a false positive. If you establish a legitimate medical condition, the Officer can report the result as negative.
You have 72 hours from the time of the result to request that the second sample be verified. The DOT will then send that sample to a different lab. If that test is negative, the DOT will conclude you had no drugs in your system.
What Happens if You Fail a DOT Test?
If you refuse to submit to a test, the DOT will consider you as having failed the test. If you violate any DOT drug rules, you are also subject to punishment.
Your supervisor will remove you from all safety-sensitive operations. You are not permitted to particulate in those operations until you perform a few steps.
You will need an evaluation from a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). An SAP is a drug counsellor, physician, and/or therapist. They recommend treatment plans for you to manage your drug use.
You must complete any treatment that your SAP prescribes. Once you do, your SAP will conduct a formal evaluation. They will consider whether you can return to work.
If they sign off on you, you will then have another drug test. You must produce a negative result.
If you return to a safety-sensitive job, you will receive random drug tests for a year. You can expect at least six.
You can receive additional tests for up to five years. You will be closely observed during all of these tests.
DOT Testing and You
Drug tests are a routine part of the DOT job process. Understand the basics of DOT testing and you make preparations for your career.
Any safety-sensitive employee will receive drug testing. You can expect a drug test before you get hired, but they can occur at any moment.
Drug tests are urine-based. You will report to a facility, provide a urine sample, and sign off on documents. If you test a false positive, you can appeal to an officer.
If you fail a test, your employer will remove you from your safety-sensitive work. You will complete treatment from a Substance Abuse Professional. If you return, you can expect additional testing.
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